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Line 6 POD Farm 2 (from $49 street)

July 1, 2010

What: Back in 1998, Line 6’s Amp Farm for Pro Tools TDM systems introduced the world to amp sims—and the company has kept pace with significant updates over the years. POD Farm 2 is their latest native software for VST/AU/RTAS systems.

Line6_1Put 10 effects per chain, in addition to your amp/cab combination, in virtually any order. POD Farm 2 retains the “Rolodex” gear selection of version 1.

Why: Although POD Farm has been well received as the successor to Line 6’s GearBox software, a couple vexing limitations remained and POD Farm 2 addresses them.

Installation: You can obtain a license code to use POD Farm 2 with compatible Line 6 hardware (e.g., TonePort interfaces) or an iLok authorization for using the software independently of whatever hardware you have. Prices differ: The basic POD Farm 2 costs $49, while the Platinum version with extra models costs $249; the iLok versions are $99 and $299 respectively. Various upgrade paths are available.

Learning curve: Not particularly difficult, as Line 6 has adopted a guitarist-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Any subtleties are easy to figure out, and there’s excellent documentation available on the Line 6 website.

Best bits: POD Farm had numerous restrictions on where you could place effects in signal chains—for example, you couldn’t put EQ before a guitar amp, only after. Now you can pretty much put anything you want anywhere you want, excepting orders that make no sense (e.g., placing a speaker cabinet before a guitar amp). This includes putting the excellent mic preamp models right after the amp cabinet, and you can have up to 10 effects per chain (with up to two parallel chains) in addition to the amp and speaker. The GUI is a little smaller, so it doesn’t take over your screen quite as much, and the individual effects are now available as separate plug-ins called “elements”—great for laptop setups, as you needn’t insert an entire POD Farm instance just to use, for example, the delay on a vocal track. Another major feature: Far more intuitive and sophisticated MIDI assignments and control, and you can use various floor controllers if you’re into using POD Farm 2 on stage.

Limitations: You can’t have more than two parallel chains, and modulation options are limited to whatever is built into individual modules (for example, there’s a cool sample-and-hold filter effect, but you can’t apply the S/H waveform to other effects).

Bottom line: I’ve always liked Line 6’s amp sims—but only after I tweaked the presets to my liking, as they seem designed for players with a lighter touch. However, the limitation on effects placement was frustrating, so having the freedom to put effects anywhere has made a huge difference in customizing sounds. Also, breaking the plug-ins down into elements means I’m using more of the effects, more often, on more different signal sources. For POD Farm fans who like to create their own sounds, this upgrade is a no-brainer.


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